I know there are a ton of threads on acne and skin health, but I haven't found one focused on the "journey" of curing skin problems. I ask this because my own skin has been undergoing an interesting and unpredictable series of changes since I adopted a paleo diet about 2 months ago. For over a decade I've dealt with acne, never severe but always there, from minimal to moderate. It was (along with gluten intolerance) my main reason for going paleo, but paleo hasn't been a miracle cure for me yet. I've seen some people saying it takes 3 months or more, and others saying that it "gets worse before it gets better." I'm curious about what I should expect during the next 1 - 4 months.
Background: For the last couple of years I usually had one to three cysts on my face, as well as small break-outs on my forehead, chest, back, and upper arms. I would break out in the same place over and over again - sometimes the spots would take over a month to heal. Around January (before I got strict about my diet), I had the worst break out ever -- multiple cysts all over my lower face, as well as numerous cystic break-outs on my neck, which was a place I never got break-outs! I was despairing. I got strict about food in late February and stopped using products on my face.
The first month and a half that I followed a paleo diet (no nuts or dairy), my skin only seemed to get worse. Some of those days about 4 weeks in were the worst skin days I've ever had in my life. I was breaking out in clusters, which was unusual for me. However, in the last 2 weeks, I've noticed that my skin is softer and I haven't had any large or cystic break-outs. I've still been getting a few pimples but they are tiny and shallow and heal quickly. However, I'm now noticing more clogged pores then ever before... No big ones but just tiny white bumps on my cheeks and jaw. Is this a detox thing or what? Am I still getting acne without the inflammation? I must be doing something right because my neck, back, and chest have been completely clear for the last couple of weeks... If anyone who has improved their skin with a paleo diet can share their stories about specifically HOW their skin reacted to the change (in stages and over what timespans), I would be most grateful.
EDIT: I also noticed something weird during the last few weeks that I forgot to mention in my original post. A few times over the last month, I was disturbed to notice a reappearing acne scar on my face. These were pale, faint scars that had previously vanished, now returning like zombies from the dead! Of course I was annoyed and a bit disturbed, also confused as it didn't make sense to me. But each time, after a few days the scars would fade again. Does this mean a deeper healing is taking place? It really weirded me out.
Everyone will have a different experience. I was gluten free for years, but still had acne. At 30, I thought it was something I had to live with. Just before I went strictly Paleo I switched to all natural, edible skin care. I use Dr Alkaitis, which is expensive, but a little goes a long way. I also experimented with using coconut oil as a moisturizer, but found that my skin was too much of an oil slick.
Before these changes I had a family if 3 cysts under my jaw that just would not go away. They became smaller, less inflamed, and eventually stopped showing up. It took time.
Thinking back, it took about 2 months of strict Paleo eating for my skin to really clear. It started to look better within 2 weeks, but the more minor breakouts you describe is something I experienced. My best guess is that as your hormones normalize, your skin adapts, but it's not an overnight process. Give your skin time, and do your best not to touch your face.
Answer to my acne; 1) Go Paleo 2) Embrace fat 3) Toss stress to the wind. If I don't have time for something, it just ain't important enough. 3) Get a seasalt, coconut oil, avocodo scrub (exfoliant). Do it every morning. 4) After exfoliating rub coconut oil all over dry face with clean hands. Blot away the grease. 5) Glowing, healthy skin.
I found that when I cut out the stress in my life (miserable relationship), ate Paleo, increased water intake and cut out Coke/Pepsi, my skin cleared right up! I still get red bumps on my shoulders and along my sports bra but I think that is due to the sweating/friction during workouts.
I've always dealt with acne growing up, and had phases where it got really bad, and then other phases when I had almost no acne. About a year ago, March 2011, I had a really bad phase, where it seemed like I was getting more acne everyday. I finally went to the dermatologist(this was before starting paleo) and found a skin care regime that worked for me, and most of my acne disappeared with consistent use.
Fast forward to now: I have just recently started paleo. I was getting a little bit of acne before starting, due to not washing my makeup off every night(I realize this is a big no no!) Within 4 days of starting paleo, my acne COMPLETELY cleared up. Regardless of whether I washed my face or not. At about day 5, I had 2 people in one day tell me how radiant my skin looked. I still use Rx from the dermatologist, so that IS one difference between our skin care regimen. But for me, going paleo immediately helped with any acne. I haven't had a single case of new acne for the last two weeks.
Sorry I can't be more help with your long term struggle with acne! I suppose I could tell you what Rx I use from the doc, but they're probably not very paleo..:)
I'm 48. I had mild-moderate acne my whole adult life. I started doing paleo for other reasons, but then found a few months later that the acne was just...gone. I didn't do anything other than regular primal/paleo. It's been gone for two years--the only tiny flare ups coming when I have to travel and it's hard to eat clean. Other than that, no zits, no blackheads, and nothing icky oozing out if I squeeze at my skin (sorry for the image, but that's what it used to be like). Apparently just regular paleo doesn't do that for everyone with acne, but it worked great for me.
I have hormonal outbreaks and I found that I got flares when I started eating better (probably from more sex hormones) that settled down eventually.
When I get a lot of clogged pores I like to do a little castor oil/ vit E mix and steam - it seems to really help me.
Hi Violet, I totally sympathize with your situation. I am grateful I only have mild acne but am struggling to get clear. Last year I was strict paleo (except for butter, if I remember correctly) for 2 months and, while my skin improved, I didn't get clear. Recently I was 6 weeks on a strict "paleo" plus rice and quinoa diet with the same results. I find paleo/the diet I described above clears my forehead, hairline, temples, and chin of all but a little comedonal acne. Unfortunately, I still break out on the lower part of my cheeks no matter how good or bad my diet is. This, for me, is just SO frustrating. Especially because I get hardcore red marks (even if I don't pick/pop) that take MONTHS AND MONTHS to fade away. So my skin looks bad even if I am not breaking out >:(
if you haven't discovered it yet, acne.org is a great resource (check out the message boards) but be careful not to get too obsessed with reading all the forums. If you want to PM me/look up my posts my username is RockingRedhead.
also, just because I don't want to start another question, has anyone taken green pastures cod liver oil/butter oil or gotten an ALCAT food sensitivity test? I am interested in both but they are both very expensive!!! hahah
This is in response to the EDIT; also, HERESY ALERT!!!! for the bottom paragraphs. I started noticing something similar to what you mentioned, despite eating a very strict paleo diet for a year and a half. It turns out that all the meat/protein I was eating (yes, totally pastured, local, grass-fed, etc--I don't eat CAFO meat) was really antagonistic for my body. I also had some deep scars that had faded start to get "puffy" again, which caused me to question every assumption about my diet.
I've cut meat consumption down to 1-4 ounces a day, some days not eating meat at all. This forced me to really up my fiber intake through veggies (lots and lots of kale cooked in the little bit of oil from those fatty 1-4 ounces of meat, usually pork belly) and lots and lots of fruit. I don't eat bananas or avocados because they tend to cause skin issues, or super sweet oranges because they give me a weird buzz, but certainly fruit has become a staple of my diet, especially in these warmer months. I don't know what this means, only that my skin is back to being clear and healthy again.
Note, however, that I can't tell you if this is the long term solution, or if my body is just responding to a therapeutic extended protein fast or a mega dose of fiber. I also can't tell you if there's a confounder with sunlight. In fact, I really do believe now that adequate sun exposure is a key part of healing skin problems, so maybe all this diet hacking isn't really that important... Perhaps "pound of ground a day" is just as ok or not ok as "30 bananas a day"?
folks, remember vitamin B12 [and in far lesser extend B6] usually triggers break outs; fortunately, activated brewer yeast does not contain B12 !. Personally, about 800mg 2 times a day made my hair and skin more dry
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